St. Mary of Sorrows ‘International Night’ a tasty success

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The first International Night, featuring entertainment, food and attire from across the globe, was hosted by the Knights of Columbus Council No. 8600 Aug. 26 at St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax.

More than 200 attendees purchased “passports” and then traveled from table to table getting their passports stamped and tasting food that their fellow parishioners cooked, donated and served.

Organized by parishioners Charlie and Cathy Gulac, the goal was to bring everyone together to experience and celebrate the different cultures of fellow parishioners, as well as welcome and engage people who might not get involved in church activities.

Parishioners represented 18 different countries, including Egypt, England, Guam, Hawaii, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mauritius, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia and Vietnam.

“I knew our parish was diverse, but I didn’t know how diverse it was until tonight,” Tung Tran said while working the Vietnam table with his wife, Lam, who handmade 240 egg rolls for the event. “It’s been eye-opening.”

Even Father James S. Barkett, pastor, was in awe seeing the diversity within the parish. “It’s a beautiful thing,” he said. “Every table has been unique. I’m only halfway through and I’m already full.”

Martha Mellor spent the day cooking to ensure everything looked and tasted delicious at her Panama table. “I am very happy to see everyone have fun and taste all the good food,” she said.

In addition to tasting ethnic food, learning about the flags, mingling with fellow parishioners and winning raffle prizes, the evening featured parishioners participating in Taekwondo demonstrations from Mt. Kim Martial Arts, as well as Hawaiian hula dancing and Spanish flamenco dancing.

Proceeds from International Night will benefit the parish capital fund.

With the inaugural event a success, plans are already underway to expand next year’s International Night to feature more than 30 countries, as multiple parishioners talked to organizers about ensuring their home country was represented in 2018.

Riemann is a freelance writer from Arlington.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017